The league office and the various NFL owners wisely have said or done nothing to suggest that standing for the national anthem is mandatory, given the absence of any rule requiring players to stand. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones ventured toward a potential minefield on Tuesday, during one of his regular appearances on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
“I got to give a big pat on the back to our entire team, our coaching staff, our entire organization,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “We strongly, strongly support the flag in every way we support — and it’s almost ridiculous to be saying it — the people who for generations and generations have given it all up so that we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television.
“We respect that so much. That’s the real business. The forum of the NFL and the forum on television is a very significant thing. I’m for it being used in every way we can to support the great, great contributors in our society, and that’s people that have supported America, the flag, and there’s no reason not to go all out right there. And for anybody to use parts of that visibility to do otherwise is really disappointing.”
With no Cowboys players choosing not to stand for the anthem, the comments from the guy who signs the checks (and who serves as the General Manager) will have no relevance to any of the decisions made by the team. If/when a Cowboys player decides to sit or kneel, things could get very interesting.
It also could get interesting if players from other teams (or from the Cowboys) react to the comments from Jones by strengthening their resolve and/or expanding their protest.
And if Jones and his partners feel sufficiently strongly about the issue, they can ask the NFL Players Association for a term in the next labor deal that makes standing for the anthem mandatory. Isn’t that what the league and some in the media say whenever the owners exercise a right that the players don’t like?